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Caracortado cruises to win Sunshine Millions Turf

Gelding beats The Usual Q.T. by half a length in the $300,000 race at Santa Anita.

January 29, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

Trainer Michael Machowsky doesn't consider himself a big bettor, but he proudly displayed the $100 ticket he wagered on his horse, Caracortado, Saturday at Santa Anita as proof he thought he might have a sure winner.

And the way the 4-year-old gelding accelerated down the stretch in the 11/8 -mile Sunshine Millions Turf and romped to a half a length victory over the talented The Usual Q.T. could be an indication Machowsky has a star in the making.

"He's a freak on turf and has such a tremendous turn of foot," jockey Joe Talamo said.

On a picturesque, cloudless day, 26,694 were on hand at the Arcadia track and many decided to dine on gourmet cuisine as part of a food truck festival while watching three stakes worth $800,000 matching horses bred in California and Florida.

There was a Ragin Cajun food truck doing great business in the infield, and with Talamo being a native of Louisiana, the hunch bettor probably cashed in on Caracortado, who went off at 3-1 and earned $165,000 from the $300,000 purse while improving to two for two in turf races.

"The great thing about him is he's run on every surface so far," Machowsky said. "Right now, percentages would point to staying on the turf, but he's so versatile, I'm just going to play out my options."

Talamo, 21, picked up the mount on Caracortado in November after co-owner Donald Blahut suggested to Machowsky that he might want to try a younger jockey. Machowsky said his regular rider, Paul Atkinson, had done nothing wrong, so he felt "bitter sweet" that Caracortado has responded so well, winning two out of three under Talamo, who had three winners Saturday.

Machowsky said he'll have to decide whether the Santa Anita Handicap or the Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf, both March 5, will be the next race for Caracortado.

"If he stays healthy, he's going to be as good as there is out here," Machowsky said.

The 4-year-old filly Evening Jewel, under Victor Espinoza, reaffirmed her status as one of the best in the distaff division with a half a length triumph over Amazing in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 11/6 miles.

"I knew she was going to run big today," Espinoza said. "I had a tremendous trip. Midway around the turn, the horses in front of me got tired and drifted off the rail, and I was able to cut the corner at the quarter pole."

James Cassidy, who trains Evening Jewel and The Usual Q.T., expressed great pleasure.

"People wait a lifetime for one of them, never mind both of them," Cassidy said. "It's a real blessing."

The biggest upset in the stakes races came in the $200,000 Sprint, where 11-1 Amazombie won the six-furlong race by a head over Apriority, with the heavily favored Cost Of Freedom another head back in third place.

Cost Of Freedom, bidding for his fourth consecutive stakes victory, took the lead from the start but faced pressure from Excessive Passion, setting the stage for Amazombie and jockey Mike Smith to pull out the victory.

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